What’s Important About Money to You?
“It ain’t the heat; it’s the humility.”– Yogi Berra
It’s not about the money. What is your real inner motivation for how you handle money – how do you spend it, and how and why do you save it?
Having talked to thousands of people about their money, we have found that money is very emotional for people. How you handle it reveals what is really important to you – your core values.
Think about it – what’s important about money to you? The answer should be an emotion that is your inner driving force.
Based on the book, “Values Based Selling” by Bill Bachrach, we have asked the above question to thousands of people. Here are some of the most common answers to this question that people have told us in the last 15 years.
Some of these values may seem to overlap, but if you focus on how they feel, you will see that each feels very different. You may have several core values, but you will understand yourself and your relationship to money best if you know your main core value:
Security/Peace of mind
This is the single most common emotion people look for from their money, especially for women. If you are looking for security, you will want a comfortable nest egg and relatively safe investments. You may spend money on your family or home, which are most important to you, but otherwise prefer to save money to have a larger nest egg. You have a tendency to buy investments that are too safe and often end up with a nest egg that is far too small for you to really feel secure. You may not think about money much, other than either feeling warm and secure or feeling insecure about your future.
Real freedom is financial freedom. There are so many things that you can do if you have money that are just not an option otherwise. Many people really want their money to give them freedom. Freedom from a routine life that can be suffocating. Freedom to do whatever is important to you and gives your life meaning.
Reaching a point in your life where you have true freedom requires more money than looking for security, because you want to have the option to spend spontaneously on things that may seem frivolous to other people. You want to have options in your life.
You probably think about money quite a bit (how to get more of it). You look for creative ideas to make your money work harder and are probably an aggressive investor, but are susceptible to slick sales pitches or investing in ways that don’t really work.
Life for you is a series of experiences. Enjoying life and creating fun and rewarding memories are most important for you. You may make a good income, but are probably a spender and may have significant debts. You tend to think short term and therefore may have little or no savings or investments. Your spontaneous nature probably makes you a bad investor, but you can do well with a “hands off” strategy.
There is a quiet, inner confidence that comes from having money. If you look for inner self-confidence from your money, you may indirectly link your personal value to your net worth. Many millionaires (“Millionaire Next Door” book types) gain their self-confidence from having money, not spending money.
You are probably frugal, but generous to family, friends that are important to you, or certain charities. People in your life probably have no idea how much money you have. You may well accumulate more than you will ever need and may regret never spending much of it. Having money allows you to do what is important to you and, if necessary, make a real difference in the lives of people you care about.
You may be a confident, patient investor, but seeking self-confidence can drive you to invest in ineffective ways.
Respect is similar to self-confidence, except that it is more about others admiring you and appearing confident, rather than having an inner self-confidence. You like to own things that are good quality and have quality brand names. You may be a spender and have debt problems, never accumulating much wealth. You may be more interested in looking like you have money, than actually having it, but you need to have a reasonable nest egg to avoid ever losing face. You are likely very generous with family and friends, and even acquaintances. You have a tendency to be unfocused with scattered investments.
Money can mean you know you will never be a burden to your loved ones. Being financially dependent on someone else often comes with strings. Independence requires a reliable income and a solid nest egg. You may want to do everything yourself, whether you are good at it or not. If you know your weaknesses, you may well look for professionals you can trust in these areas to ensure your independence.
These are just a few of the core, emotional values. Everyone is unique, but most people have one main core value that essentially defines who they are.
A financial plan that does not look at your emotional values related to money can often seem like just a bunch of numbers. Once you understand what is important about money to you, you can learn to use money to make your life fulfilling.
We are curious about what type of people MDJ readers are. Of the above 6 core values, what’s important about money to you?
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Hi Ed, very thought provoking…when I initially read the article -what stood out was my long term goal…security…however, what also stood out was the behavior associated with a security mindset…conservative investing. i am now reconsidering my outlook – as maximizing returns (which is important to me…even tho I have a conservative mindset) may be in conflict with my personal investment objectives…meaning I may need to reconsider / retool what I’m doing. thanks for the wake up call ;)
This was a great/interesting post.
As I think you know, it’s all about freedom for me while, for my wife it’s definitely security (but, she is not an MDJ reader so, probably doesn’t count in your tally).
Your on-going commitment to delve deeper and to offer a more “holistic” approach to financial planning services is/was new (in my experience) and continues to be a big part what makes me a happy client of yours.
Thanks for all your openness in sharing your value.
That makes the score:
Pretty much all those things you listed are important to me. But I’d say security outweighs the others by a long shot. I want to have wealth so I’m not completely screwed if my car breaks down or I get layed off. I want to be able to not be a “slave” to my job and be able to leave if I hate it.
Wealth brings a lot of change to your life. If you can manage and grow wealth properly I think you have a lot more options in life than those who can’t.
I think for me it is a mix and a combination of several different factors of why money is important to me. In fact… for me… it is a piece of everything you have mentioned here. Part of the reason why I am a Finance major right now in my third year of college, is because I want to be able to know how to handle my money the best way that I can, because in my opinion… in the end the world revolves around money, and you better know to properly manage that money.
When i have money i do have a sense of security, knowing i do not have to rely on someone is a big ego booster
I would have to go with self-confidence. If I don’t have a certain amount of cashflow/savings beyond my needs, I don’t feel good about my situation, and – by extension – myself.
At first glance – this post didn’t really spark my interest much – but reading through your comments Ed – it made me think more and you’re right.
For every person there is at least 1 underlying goal that everyone wants to achieve. Any everything else is part of that path. Very enlightening article by far. :)
freedom for me too – i’m in my mid-twenties and can’t wait to getout of the daily grind. great post imo – one of my faves.
According to me money can make me Independent and help me to increase my self-confidence.